How to Choose the Perfect Hair Color for Your Skin Tone [Expert Advice]

Picking the right hair color is about more than just style; it’s about finding a shade that brings out the best in you. The right hair color can make you look and feel great, matching your skin tone in a way that really shines. But with so many colors to choose from, how do you know which one is perfect for you?

It’s all about matching your hair color with your skin tone. Think of it like picking a dress that fits you just right – you need to find a color that looks as good as it feels.

Whether you want to go for a bright red, a soft blonde, or something totally different, your skin tone can help you find a color that will bring out your natural glow and flatter your features.

We’re here to show you how to find out what your skin tone is and match it with the best hair colors. And most importantly, we’ll help you pick a color that shows off your personal style. Remember, the best hair color is the one that makes you feel fantastic!

What hair color suits your skin tone chart infographic color wheel

Understanding Skin Tones and Undertones.

Choosing the right hair color starts with understanding your skin tone and undertones. Think of your skin tone as the surface color of your skin, and your undertone as the subtle hue underneath.

Together, they influence which hair colors will look best on you.

Identifying Your Skin Tone

Your skin tone is typically categorized into four types: fair, medium, olive, or dark.

  • Fair Skin: This skin tone is very light. People with fair skin often burn easily in the sun. If your skin has this porcelain or ivory look, you fall into the fair category.
  • Medium Skin: This is a more neutral skin tone, not too light or too dark. If you tan gradually and have a light to olive complexion, you have medium skin.
  • Olive Skin: Olive skin has a slightly green or yellow undertone. It tans easily and rarely burns. If your skin has this natural bronze tone, you’re in the olive category.
  • Dark Skin: Dark skin ranges from a deeper tan to a rich, dark brown and usually tans or burns minimally. If you have a rich, deeper skin color, you fall into the dark category.
skin tones infographic showing different skin tone colors and shades

Expert Insights

“The rule is simple – warm skin tones look best in warm colors while cool tones look best in cool colors. The goal is to pick a shade that best accentuates your natural features.” 

Wella Hair

Understanding Undertones

Undertones come in three types: cool, warm, or neutral.

  • Cool Undertones: If you have cool undertones, your skin will have hints of blue, pink, or a ruddy red complexion. To check, look at the veins on your wrist. If they appear blue or purple, you likely have cool undertones.
  • Warm Undertones: Warm undertones mean your skin has hints of peach, yellow, or golden hues. Your wrist veins might appear more greenish. This is a sign of warm undertones.
  • Neutral Undertones: Neutral undertones are a mix of warm and cool hues. If it’s hard to determine whether your veins are blue or green, you might have neutral undertones.

Knowing your skin tone and undertones is the first step to finding that perfect hair color. It helps you understand which shades will complement your natural complexion, making your choice both easier and more exciting!

If you have cool undertones:

  • Your skin tone is pink or pale.
  • You blush easily!
  • Jewel and pastel colors are so your thing.
  • The color yellow washes you out and does not look good on you.
  • You have blue not green veins in your wrist.
  • Pearls and silver jewellery look awesome on you.

If you have warm undertones:

  • You have red or golden tones in your natural hair.
  • Your complexion is golden, tan or olive.
  • You might have freckles.
  • You have green not blue veins in your wrist.
  • You suit bright or rich shades better.
  • Gold jewellery looks awesome on you.
do i have cool or warm undertones checklist infographic

Watch & learn: How to find your skin undertone like a pro.

Here’s a great video tutorial we recommend that simply explains how to find your undertone the way that a professional image consultant would.

Best Hair Colors for Cool Undertones

If you’ve determined that you have cool undertones, the world of hair colors has some stunning options for you.

Cool undertones are complemented by hair colors that also have a cool edge to them. Think of colors that have a silvery, ashy, or blue-ish hue. Here are some top picks:

#1 Ash Blonde

This is a beautiful, muted blonde with hints of gray. It’s perfect for adding a sophisticated and chic look. Ash blonde works especially well if you already have lighter hair and want to add some cool, smoky tones to it.

#2 Cool Brown

Think of a rich brown that has a hint of coolness, like a chestnut shade. It’s deep and vibrant without any warm, red undertones. Cool brown is a great choice if you want something darker but still in tune with your cool undertones.

#3 Jet Black

For a bold and striking look, jet black hair is a classic. It’s a pure, deep black without any warm tones, making it a great match for cool undertones. This color is all about making a statement.

#4 Platinum Blonde

If you’re feeling adventurous, platinum blonde is a high-impact choice. It’s a super light blonde that can almost look white, and it pairs beautifully with cool skin tones, giving a luminous contrast.

#5 Burgundy Red

A deep, cool red like burgundy can also work well with cool undertones. It’s a rich color that combines red and purple tones, creating a luxurious and bold look.

#6 Icy Pastels

Think lavender, soft pink, or even a pale blue. These colors are playful and can look incredibly chic and modern. They work best on lighter hair and can be a fun way to experiment with color.

Remember, these are just guidelines to get you started. The best hair color for you is one that you feel great in.

For inspiration, you can look up celebrities with cool undertones who have tried these hair colors.

Celebs like Gwen Stefani with her iconic platinum blonde or Katy Perry’s gorgeous pastel tones are stunning examples.

Ideal Hair Colors for Warm Undertones

If your skin has warm undertones, you’re in luck because there’s a variety of hair colors that can beautifully enhance your natural glow.

Warm undertones are characterized by a golden, peachy, or yellowish hue, and they pair wonderfully with hair colors that have a similar warmth. Here are some ideal choices:

#1 Golden Blonde

This sunny, bright shade of blonde is perfect for enhancing the warmth in your skin. It’s like capturing the glow of a sunny day in your hair. Golden blonde adds a cheerful and radiant touch to your look.

#2 Rich Auburn

A deep red with a hint of brown, auburn is a warm and luxurious color. It can add depth and warmth to your look, creating an elegant and sophisticated vibe.

#3 Copper Tones

Copper is a bold choice that really stands out. It’s a blend of red and bronze that shines especially bright under the sun. This dimensional color works great for those looking to make a vibrant statement.

#4 Honey Brown

For a more subtle option, honey brown is a warm and inviting shade. It’s a sweet spot between blonde and brown, offering a natural look with a hint of sunshine.

#5 Caramel Highlights

If you’re not ready for a full color change, caramel highlights can add a warm, sun-kissed effect to your hair. They work well with most base colors and add dimension and warmth.

#6 Chestnut Brown

A classic and versatile choice, chestnut brown hair color has warm, reddish tones. It’s a rich color that can add a cozy warmth to your overall appearance.

To get some visual inspiration, look up celebs with warm undertones who have rocked these colors. For instance, Beyoncé often flaunts gorgeous golden blonde tones, and Isla Fisher’s rich auburn hair complements her warm complexion beautifully.

Flattering Hair Colors for Neutral Undertones

Neutral undertones are the wild card of the skin tone world – you can pull off a wide variety of hair colors!

If you have neutral undertones, your skin doesn’t lean noticeably towards either cool or warm, but has a balance of both. This gives you the flexibility to experiment with a broad spectrum of hair colors. Here are some suggestions:

#1 Soft Beige Blonde

Beige blonde is a color is a balanced blend of warm and cool tones, making it a perfect match for neutral undertones. It’s a sophisticated and versatile shade that can add a gentle brightness to your look.

#2 Rich Chocolate Brown

Chocolate brown is a deep, warm color that isn’t too overpowering for neutral undertones. It offers a natural, understated elegance that works with a variety of styles.

#3 Sunset Red

Think of the colors of a sunset – a mix of warm and cool tones. This shade of red isn’t too bright or too muted and can complement neutral undertones beautifully.

#4 Mocha

Mocha is a great middle-ground color, offering a blend of brown with hints of soft golden. It’s a warm, inviting color that adds depth without overwhelming neutral skin tones.

#5 Espresso Brown

A deep, almost black brown, espresso brown hair color is a great choice if you’re looking for something darker. It’s a strong color that still harmonizes well with neutral undertones.

#6 Sandy Blonde

Sandy Blonde hair is a light, almost neutral blonde with just a hint of warmth. It’s a great option if you’re looking to go lighter but want something low-maintenance and natural-looking.

Celebrities with neutral undertones who have rocked these colors include Jennifer Aniston with her iconic sandy blonde locks and Priyanka Chopra, who often goes for rich chocolate brown shades.

They show how versatile your choices can be with neutral undertones.

Hair Color Tips for Fair Skin

Fair skin is like a blank canvas for hair color – there are so many shades that can look stunning. The key is to choose colors that complement the lightness of your skin without overwhelming it. Here are some suggestions tailored to enhance the delicate beauty of fair skin:

#1 Soft Ash Blonde

This is a lovely choice for fair skin, especially if you have cool undertones. The ashy tones won’t overpower your light complexion and will add a chic, sophisticated touch.

#2 Strawberry Blonde

For those with fair skin and warm undertones, strawberry blonde is a delightful option. It combines the lightness of blonde with a touch of warm red, giving a fresh and youthful look.

#3 Light Pastel Hues

Think pale pinks, lavenders, or blues. These whimsical pastel colors can look enchanting against fair skin, especially if you’re into a more playful and unique style.

#4 Classic Red

If you have fair skin with cool undertones, a classic red can be striking. It creates a bold contrast and can range from a bright copper to a deep burgundy depending on your preference.

#5 Jet Black

For a dramatic look, jet black can create a stunning contrast with fair skin. It’s a bold move but can be incredibly striking, especially with a cool undertone.

#6 Honey Blonde

This is a great option if you have fair skin with warm undertones. The warm, golden tones of honey blonde can add a healthy glow to your complexion.

Celebrities like Emma Stone and Nicole Kidman have gracefully sported varying shades of red and strawberry blonde, demonstrating how these colors can beautifully complement fair skin. Meanwhile, the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Scarlett Johansson have shown how blonde shades can make fair skin really glow.

When choosing a color for fair skin, consider how the shade will work with your undertones and your personal style. Whether you prefer subtle elegance or bold statements, there’s a color that will make your fair skin shine!

Choosing Hair Colors for Medium Skin Tones

Medium skin tones offer a great versatility in hair color choices. Whether you’re aiming for a natural look or something more striking, there’s a wide range of colors that can beautifully complement your complexion. Here are some top hair color suggestions for medium skin tones:

#1 Caramel Brown

This warm, golden brown shade adds a natural sun-kissed look to medium skin tones. It’s perfect for a subtle yet noticeable change and works great with both warm and cool undertones.

#2 Rich Mahogany

Mahogany is a deep, reddish-brown color that can add warmth and depth to medium skin. It’s an excellent choice for a bold yet sophisticated look.

#3 Golden Highlights

Adding golden highlights to your base color can brighten up your face and give a fresh, vibrant look. This works particularly well for medium skin with warm undertones.

#4 Burgundy

For those who want to make a statement, burgundy is a stunning choice. The deep red with a touch of purple can really pop against medium skin, creating an eye-catching look.

#5 Bronze Brown

This is a beautiful blend of brown and subtle red tones, offering a rich, multidimensional look. It’s perfect for medium skin, adding warmth and radiance.

#6 Dark Blonde

A darker shade of blonde can provide a nice contrast without being too stark against medium skin. It’s an excellent option if you’re looking to go lighter but want to keep things relatively natural.

Celebrities like Jennifer Lopez with her caramel brown locks and Rihanna’s ever-changing hair colors, including rich reds and burgundies, are great sources of inspiration for medium skin tones.

The beauty of having a medium skin tone is that you can play around with both light and dark hair colors. Whether you’re leaning towards a natural look or something bold and daring, there’s a hair color out there that will perfectly complement your medium complexion.

Selecting Hair Colors for Olive Skin

Olive skin has a unique natural green or yellow undertone that can be beautifully enhanced with the right hair color.

The key is to choose shades that complement your skin’s natural warmth without overpowering it. Here are some top hair color choices for olive skin:

#1 Warm Brown Tones

Shades like mocha, caramel, hazelnut or light brown can add a lovely warmth to olive skin. These shades bring out the natural glow of your skin without overwhelming it.

#2 Honey Blonde

Honey blonde is a fantastic choice for olive skin. It’s warm and rich, providing a stunning contrast without being too harsh. This color can brighten up your face and add a soft, sun-kissed look.

#3 Rich Auburn

Auburn is a beautiful blend of red and brown that works well with the green undertones in olive skin. It’s a bold choice but can look incredibly natural and flattering.

#4 Dark Chocolate Brown

If you prefer darker hair, a rich chocolate brown can be very complementary. It’s a natural-looking color that adds depth and sophistication to your appearance.

#5 Subtle Highlights

Incorporating subtle highlights or babylights in shades like caramel or honey can add dimension to your hair and brighten up your overall look. This is a great option if you want a change without a complete color overhaul.

#6 Espresso Brown

A deep, almost black shade like espresso can be striking against olive skin. It offers a dramatic contrast while still harmonizing with the skin’s natural undertones.

Celebrities like Penélope Cruz and Salma Hayek have stunning olive skin with shades of caramel and rich browns, are great examples of how these colors can enhance olive skin tones.

When selecting a hair color for olive skin, consider shades that highlight its natural beauty. Whether you go for a subtle look or a bold change, there’s a shade that will make your olive complexion look positively radiant.

Hair Color Ideas for Dark Skin Tones

Dark skin tones have the advantage of pairing well with a wide range of vibrant and flattering hair colors. Here you’ll want to choose shades that complement the depth and richness of your dark skin. Here are some fresh and unique hair color ideas for dark skin tones:

#1 Midnight Blue

This is a subtle yet striking choice. Midnight blue adds a hint of color that’s visible in sunlight, giving a cool, edgy look without being overpowering.

#2 Vibrant Plum

A rich, deep plum or purple can look stunning against dark skin. This bold choice adds a playful yet sophisticated touch to your look.

#3 Rose Gold

Rose gold is a trendy, warm shade that combines pink and gold tones. It’s an unconventional choice for dark skin but can add a beautiful, soft glow to your appearance.

#4 Deep Burgundy

This is a darker, more subtle variant of the classic red that works beautifully on dark skin. It adds warmth and vibrancy without being too bright.

#5 Warm Bronze

Think of a metallic bronze with warm undertones. This color is unique and can add a luxurious shine to your hair, enhancing the natural richness of dark skin.

#6 Cherry Red

For a bolder look, cherry red can be a stunning contrast against dark skin. It’s a vibrant and energetic color that can really make your features pop.

#7 Black Hair with Highlights

If you already have black hair, adding highlights in shades like caramel, blue, or even purple can create a beautiful, multidimensional effect.

What Determines Your Skin Tone and Undertones?

Your skin and hair color come from something called melanin, which is made in your skin cells. There are two types of melanin:

  • Eumelanin: This gives a brown or black color and is the main reason for darker skin and hair​​.
  • Phaeomelanin: This type creates yellow or red colors, like in red hair​​.

Genetics Play a Big Role

  • A gene called MC1R affects your melanin. If it’s really active, you get more eumelanin, leading to darker skin and hair. If this gene doesn’t work well, you might have red hair and fair skin​​.

Sunlight Changes Your Color

  • When you’re in the sun, your skin makes more melanin. This can make your skin and sometimes your hair get darker over time​​.

Age and Gender Matter Too

  • The amount of melanin you have changes with age and whether you’re male or female. For example, kids and women usually have lighter skin than men​​.
  • As you get older, you might start to get grey hair. This happens because the cells that make melanin in your hair slow down and stop as you age​​.

So, when you’re choosing a hair color, thinking about these factors can help you pick something that looks great with your natural skin tone and undertones.

Expert Insights

“Skin and hair colour is primarily determined by the genes we inherit from our parents. An individual’s skin and hair colour provides a clue to their ancestry and heritage.”

Vanessa Ngan, DermNet

How to care for colored hair

Coloring your hair, especially if it involves drastic changes, can be exciting but it’s important to maintain the health of your hair. Here are some tips to keep your hair in top condition and your color looking vibrant:

  1. Pre-Color Hair Care: If you’re planning a major color change, prepare your hair. Use deep conditioning treatments and trim any split ends before coloring. This helps your hair better absorb and retain the new color.
  2. Choose Quality Hair Dyes: Opt for high-quality hair dyes, preferably those with nourishing ingredients. They’re less damaging and can help maintain the health of your hair.
  3. After-Color Care: After coloring, switch to hair care products specifically designed for colored hair. These products are gentler and help preserve the color. Look for sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners, as sulfates can strip away hair color.
  4. Regular Deep Conditioning: Colored hair needs extra moisture. Use deep conditioning treatments regularly to keep your hair hydrated and healthy.
  5. Limit Heat Styling: Frequent use of heat styling tools can damage colored hair. Try to reduce the use of blow dryers, straighteners, and curling irons. When you do use them, apply a heat protectant to minimize damage.
  6. Protect Your Hair from the Sun: Just like your skin, your hair can be damaged by the sun. UV rays can fade hair color and dry out your hair. Wear a hat or use hair products with UV protection when you’re out in the sun.
  7. Regular Trims: Regular trims help keep your hair healthy and free of split ends, which can make colored hair look dull and lifeless.
  8. Avoid Chlorine Exposure: Chlorine, commonly found in swimming pools, can strip hair color and cause dryness. Wear a swimming cap or apply a leave-in conditioner before swimming to protect your hair.
  9. Touch-Ups: For lasting vibrancy, touch up your roots as needed. This helps maintain a uniform color and keeps your hair looking fresh.
  10. Healthy Diet and Hydration: A healthy diet and staying hydrated can improve your overall hair health. Foods rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals support strong, healthy hair.

By following these tips, you can enjoy your new hair color while keeping your hair healthy, shiny, and vibrant.

Parting words

As we wrap up this colorful guide, remember that your hair is a canvas for self-expression and creativity. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different hair colors. Whether you’re going for a subtle change or a bold new look, the right hair color can be transformative, adding a new dimension to your personal style.

Consider your skin tone as a guide, but don’t let it limit your choices. The world of hair color is vast and exciting, and there’s a shade out there that’s perfect for you. It’s all about finding a balance between a color that complements your natural beauty and one that reflects your personality.

Remember to care for your colored hair with the tips provided, and don’t hesitate to seek advice from professionals. Most importantly, enjoy the journey of finding your perfect hair color!

Found your perfect shade? We’d love to see it! Tag us on Instagram @colouredhaircare or Facebook and share your hair color success stories. Looking for more hair care tips? Check out How to Look After Colored Hair: 11 Expert Secrets For Long-Lasting Color.

This article was written and reviewed by:

  • Nicola Freeman, Creative Director & Content Lead
    Creative Director & Content Lead

    With over two decades of passionate hair dyeing experience, I've experimented with nearly every shade imaginable. My journey began long before blogging; as an award-winning copywriter in London and New York, I shaped narratives for iconic brands. However, when friends sought advice during lockdown for at-home hair dyeing, I realized my true calling. Beyond being your hair color expert, I'm a mom of two girls, wife to artist Tony, and an avid soccer player!

  • Enza Piazza, Hair Stylist & Color Consultant
    Hair Stylist & Color Consultant

    I’m Enza Piazza, your go-to hair stylist and color consultant with over 23 years of professional salon experience bringing vibrancy and life to hair of all hues. My Italian roots from sunny Sicily infuse passion into every snip and color, a passion that’s been recognized with top honor awards including bridal and party hair at the National Hairdressers Federation’s Championships. After training in Surrey, UK’s most prestigious salons including Head Master Academy, I embraced the entrepreneurial spirit and set up Enza Hair Styling, offering tailored hair care for 13 years, and treating each client like family. Away from the salon, I cherish moments as a proud Nonna to grandson Joseph and as a playful companion to my Jack Russell, Bo.